The impossible doesn’t exist in the reality, only in our minds and in the beliefs and habits that keep us prisoners of outdated ways of thinking. Therefore, innovation and creativity are not about having new ideas, but about freeing ourselves from obsolete ones.
Flying in a balloon teaches us to do exactly the opposite of everything we have learned to do in our daily life, and will offer us new strategies for innovation, creativity and crisis management.
In our education and training, we are taught to fear the uncertainties, the changes, the unknown: in other words everything we cannot control. So what do we do? We acquire every available tool to fight against the unpredictability, against the obstacles. We want to have more power, more speed, more control to go in the direction we have chosen. Sometimes it works, but much more often life doesn’t give us exactly what we expected. How often do our dreams, or even our business plans, come to reality?
What is relevant?
In a balloon, everything is different. We have no power as we have no engine, no control, as we are pushed by the wind, and we don’t even have our own speed and direction as we have the ones given by the meteorological conditions. It’s a permanent crisis situation: we know exactly where we have come from, but have no idea where we are going.
So why is this relevant? In the basket of a balloon, we can learn something vital: the atmosphere consists of very different wind layers which all move in different directions at different speeds. It means that each time we are pushed in a bad direction, the only way to get out of it is to change our altitude and find a layer of wind which will give us a better trajectory.
Changing altitude in the winds of life
In life, the situation is the same, because life is made like the atmosphere: everything that we face, like fashions, trends, expectations of our customers, stock markets, the financial crisis, political decisions, the reactions of our competitors, as well as accidents, sicknesses and deaths, success, failure, love and so on, everything is like the wind: it comes to us in a completely unpredictable way and pushes us toward the unknown. So if we are used to fearing the unknown, our entire life is going to be a nightmare.
We should understand life as an experimental field that we have to explore in order to acquire new tools and resources so we can become more efficient. We will just waste our time and our energy if we try to resist or to fight against things we cannot control. We should behave as a balloonist and understand that our only freedom and responsibility is to change altitude in the winds of life each time we face unfavorable situations. We should change altitude in our education, our profession, our way of behaving and reacting, even psychologically, philosophically and spiritually. Change altitude in the winds of life in order to find other levels, other influences, strategies, solutions or answers that will automatically push us in another direction. In other words, we have to be ready at every moment to modify our vision of the world if we want to steer our destiny around the obstacles and invent our own future instead of being a victim of it.
But changing altitude in the winds of life is not to be understood as a poetic metaphor. It is a very concrete action, as soon as we understand how a balloon works. If you want to climb, you have to become lighter, and therefore you have to drop ballast, i.e. sand, water, reserves of food or old equipment you don’t need any more (if possible over unpopulated areas!).
Learning to drop ballast is crucial
In our life, we should learn to do the same. We have a lot of ballast, but we unfortunately learn to keep it on board. Our ballast is our certainty, safety, habits, convictions, beliefs, exclamation marks, paradigms, dogmas, common assumptions and so on. Unfortunately, every time we face a crisis, we try to hold this ballast in our hands as hard as we can instead of throwing it overboard. We believe this attitude will make us stronger, but it won’t: it only makes us heavier. Have you noticed how much we tend to cling to familiar habits in a period of crisis, instead of dropping our ballast overboard? Learning to drop ballast is crucial, although it is definitely not what we learn to do in our education. What does dropping ballast mean? It means honestly analyzing our deepest beliefs and envisaging the exact opposites. I am not suggesting that the opposite will necessarily be better. I just mean that we can become aware of our usual way of thinking and simultaneously imagine the polar opposite. In this way, we won’t have just one option available, but all the options that stand between both extremes. Not one direction that keeps us prisoners of a crisis, but all the solutions ranged in front of us. All of them will suddenly be within our reach. The next step will be to find which one suits us best and then decide to follow it. This active decision will make us free. Not necessarily free to do everything, as this is not always possible, but free to think in every direction, to envisage our future in a more innovative way.
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Much of what happens in life is beyond our control. We must be prepared to throw out our own ideas and beliefs to find new influences, strategies and solutions that will let us overcome obstacles.